I have to say that Venus II is (at least in my setup) better DAC!
Denafrips Venus II DAC review
Radoslav Kosák 18.1.2021
First, let me explain why I decided to try Venus II. I was quite happy with my previous DAC in my setup (Simaudio Moon 380D dsd), but when I added Denafrips Gaia as DDC between Moon and Aurender streamer last year, something happened. I was aware of fact, that DDC can improve sound quality (as my former DDC Matrix audio X-SPDIF2), but this time it was GREAT update sonically, not subtle as with Matrix. For details see my review of GAIA on Denafrips web (Nov 9, 2020 post). After good experience with GAIA I was very curious what Denafrips DAC could do with sound of my setup. I decided to try Venus II model, which seemed to be not fair rival to twice as priced Moon 380D, but who knows…
Built quality of Venus II is great (and I expected this as GAIA owner). Aluminum housing is nicely finished with no sharp edges and minimum visible screws, quite hefty for the size. Front panel buttons have accurate, firm tactile feel. Brightness of LEDs on the front panel is just right. Number of inputs is great, I do like two AES/EBU inputs, as this is my preferred input so far and I have bunch of decent quality AES/EBU cables to test... The only feature I am missing is remote control.
As always, my critical listening and comparison began after I was sure that unit is properly burned-in, which, in this case took about three weeks of non-stop playback. All my evaluation of sound quality applies to NOS mode, balanced output to amp and AES/EBU input from GAIA (I do have brand new I2S HDMI cable, but it is not burned in yet, so it would be not fair comparison to other inputs).
Sound is very detailed, micro and macro dynamic are great, soundstage is believable wide and 3D rendering of good recordings is best I have ever heard in my listening room. Timbre of acoustic instruments is accurate, human voices are very natural with real focus. Bass is controlled and goes very deep. Mids. are sweet (although not as sweet as on Moon DAC) and high frequencies are detailed and crisp but not harsh. Overall sound character in my setup is quite neutral, not too bright or too soft. Just right. Or take it this way. Bright recording sounds bright, dull recording sounds dull, but good recording sounds unbelievable real!
Comparison to Moon 380D dsd:
Moon 380D dsd is great DAC with almost no apparent flaw, but overall sound is quite soft compared to Venus II. In fact, after several weeks of listening to Venus, too soft. Venus II has better macro dynamic, bass has better punch and goes slightly deeper. High frequencies are in par, but again Moon has slightly softer presentation. Soundstage on Venus is little bit deeper and more realistic. The only thing, which Moon does better in my setup are mids. Moon can render mid frequencies with unique sweetness, which is hard to describe. But that’s it. I have to say that Venus II is (at least in my setup) better DAC!
Venus II DAC represents exceptional value for the money. Great sound and built quality can compete with much more expensive converters. Highly recommended!
Power filter: Isotek Aquarius, Shunyata Research Hydra Triton
Streamer: Aurender N100H
DDC: Denafrips Gaia
Integrated amp: Simaudio Moon 600i
Speakers: Diapason Adamantes III 25th
Analog and digital cables: Siltech Classic Anniversary, Shunyata Research Delta
WHERE TO BUY?